BAGHDAD (AFP) — The Iraqi capital ground to a standstill Saturday after a rare rain and hail storm flooded city streets, leaving scores of cars stranded in muddy water half a metre (yard) deep.
Traffic was backed up for hours on Baghdad's main streets in mid-afternoon, as pedestrians waded through the knee-deep water or tiptoed across ubiquitous concrete security barriers.
It only rains in Baghdad a few times each year, and most streets are not built to drain water.
Entire intersections were submerged, tunnels were closed, and main thoroughfares shut down because of fallen trees.
Even on the sunniest days Baghdad's anarchic traffic can be a nightmare — the city's roads are covered with potholes, several streets are blocked for security reasons, and traffic laws are rarely if ever enforced.
The entire country's infrastructure fell into disrepair during the decades of war and international sanctions that preceeded the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.
The finance ministry has estimated that Iraq will need 400 billion dollars (315 billion euros) for reconstruction, which it hopes will be mostly covered by foreign investment.
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